When Midnight Bisou dominated the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes by six lengths on June 30 at Belmont Park, it appeared there might be some competition after all for streaking Monomoy Girl for the Eclipse Award as leading 3-year-old filly.
Front-running Monomoy Girl turned back her would-be arch-rival by three comfortable lengths in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course to dispel the slightest doubt concerning her division.
“We have more work to do. We have other goals,” said Michael Dubb, part of the ownership group of the winner. “But I would think she wrapped it up.”
The chestnut daughter of Tapizar would indeed appear to have unstoppable momentum after she added the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks to her 5 ½-length rout in the April 7 Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Course, her half-length decision against Wonder Gadot in the May 4 Longines Kentucky Oaks and her two-length score in the June 9 Acorn Stakes.
Monomoy Girl now boasts eight victories in nine career starts. Her lifetime earnings grew to $1,660,750. She remained perfect this year.
“That’s five starts this year. She brings her ‘A’ game every time,” said trainer Brad Cox. “I was very confident going into this race. She didn’t let us down.”
Without a doubt, Monomoy Girl looks the part of a champion.
“She gets bigger, stronger, shinier every race,” Cox said. “She’s doing amazing.”
Regular rider Florent Geroux can see and feel the difference. “No doubt, she’s getting better,” he said. “Mentally and physically, she’s growing into a very nice filly.”
Cox urged Geroux to take it to his four opponents from the start. The rider and his mount had no trouble following instructions.
“We took no prisoners,” Geroux said. “We took it to them right away and kept on going.”
Favored Monomoy Girl had everything go her way through an opening quarter that went in 24.12, a half-mile that was completed in 48.23 seconds and three-quarters of a mile covered in 1:12.43. Her final time on a fast track for the mile-and-an-eighth distance was 1:50.46.
The race hardly set up the way Mike Smith, rider of Midnight Bisou, hoped it would.
“I realized we weren’t going very quick down the backside,” he said. “So I tipped out and tried to press the pace, just get her moving.”
It was much too little and much too late. The damage already was done. When a filly of Monomoy Girl’s ability is allowed to get comfortable on the lead, there is no catching her or even getting close.
Chocolate Martini finished third. Eskimo Kisses never threatened in fourth. Gio Game paid the price for exerting early pressure. She faded to last. Monomoy Girl paid $3.00, $2.10 and $2.10.
Cox said he is looking for one more start before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs. The 1 ¼-mile Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 18 offers appeal because Monomoy Girl would be able to race out of her stall in pursuit of another Grade 1. He is optimistic that she can handle the demanding distance based on what he just saw.
“If today was a mile and a quarter, I would have been confident she could run another eighth of a mile,” he said.
Another possibility is the $1 million Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, contested at a mile and a sixteenth, on Sept. 22 at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa. The timing of that contest might be too good to resist.
“She’s capable of shipping, which she’s done many times,” Cox said. “We’ll just let her determine where we are.”
Smith applauded the winner.
“I was very confident going into the far turn. I thought I had a shot at them, but then she kicked into another gear,” he said. “But look, it’s not like [my filly] got beat by some horse.”
It sure looked as though Midnight Bisou had her butt kicked by the division champ.